Big Half Foot, 2017
The Swedish artist Fredrik Wretman has long been at the forefront of developments in new artistic media, but he has always maintained a close relationship with the craftsmanship element of art. He is particularly interested in the traditional lost wax method and has modelled an extensive series of imaginative, mythical creatures and figures that have been cast in bronze.
In works such as Big Half Foot at Donum, Wretman has created a world reminiscent of an archaeological excavation site. It is a place of fertile interplay between past and present that fires the imagination. The artist’s bronze figures seem to have emerged, like monumental ruins from a distant past and express something of the spirit of the Greek god Hermes: the polyglot messenger who could speak with the underworld, with humans and gods. It is unlikely that Fredrik Wretman himself aspires to such a role, but as an artist he possesses a capacity for communication between different worlds. His sculptures demonstrate a sleight of both hand and mind that open them to the world. But alongside the artist’s playfulness and humour, there is always a touch of spirituality and a seriousness that places human creativity at the center.
Contrary to what the traditional form of the sculptures might suggest, Wretman began to use new digital technologies early. His curiosity, coupled with the possibilities of new technology, has led to many installations, video projections and animations, as well as to many smaller, intricate sculptures. Certain elements nevertheless recur in his work like archetypes, such as the god Hermes, the Narcissus myth, the surface of water, mirror reflections, the figure of the meditating Buddha. For Wretman, these archetypes promote a sense of self-reflection and mirror images of ourselves; he wants his work to ask questions about who we are and how we fit into our vast, often mysterious world.
Wretman has worked on large-scale public sculpture projects in Sweden, and he has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Bonniers Konsthall and at the Göteborg Museum of Art in Sweden. His work can be found in major public collections such as the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo. He lives between Sweden and Thailand, where he has a studio and works with traditional craftsmen, casting bronze sculptures in the ancient lost wax method. His works express their creator's close relationship with the two countries, a creative interplay between East and West, old and new.